Founder of Amnesty International dies, aged 83

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Saturday, February 26, 2005 The founder of Amnesty International, Peter Benenson, passed away last night after suffering for some time from a serious illness. At age 83, it is forty four years since he founded Amnesty as a result of reading an article about the imprisonment of two students in Portugal who had drunk a toast to liberty.

Amnesty International said they will be holding a public memorial service and there will be private ceremony for family members however there will be no funeral service. Amnesty International's current Secretary-General, Irene Khan, said after his death: "Peter Benenson's life was a courageous testament to his visionary commitment to fight injustice around the world."

The organisation was initially formed in 1960 for "a one-year campaign for the release of six prisoners of conscience." Today Amnesty has over 1.8m members and campaigns for human rights on a global basis. Mr. Benenson was originally trained as a lawyer before he dedicated his life to the promotion of human rights.